Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Importer/Exporter

For those of you waiting for Part 2 of the Sense and Sensibility post, it's coming. But right now I want to share the things I'm most excited about in my reading and writing worlds.

This afternoon, on a whim, I stopped by the library on the way home, thinking to restock on audiobooks for my commute. By sheer good fortune, today was the first day of the library's holiday book sale. I haven't had much luck with those sales in the past. I tend to catch them when the books are all picked over, so I end up buying things I'm never going to read (case in point: a well-scuffed biography of Scott Hamilton, the ice skater. Yes, I like ice skating, and I like Scott Hamilton. But I don't see myself reading it in the near future). Today, though, I hit the jackpot: dozens of books in new and nearly-new condition that I've either read and wanted a copy of, or haven't read but know I will like. I ended up lugging a full grocery bag home. Here are the spoils of my good fortune:


1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Previously read, and recommended many times to friends and family. Now I have a copy to lend!
2. Best American Short Stories 2009, ed. Alice Sebold. As a writer of short stories, I figure it can't hurt to be reading the best American ones, even if they're two years old.
3. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. Previously read- quite a long time ago. I remember really liking it, but I don't remember the ending, so reading it will be like discovering something new and familiar at the same time.
4. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. Previously read and LOVED. I think it's even better than The Other Boleyn Girl, which was more popular (due to the film). This book helped inspire me to write historical fiction. It's so hard to write historical fiction with accuracy while telling a compelling story. Of course, when you're writing about Henry VIII's adulterous, murderous and gluttonous doings, who wouldn't be fascinated?
5. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Never read, but on my book bucket list.
6. The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah. Never read, but I've liked several of her other books, and expect to enjoy this one as well. I might save it for the beach next summer- they're good beach reads.
7. Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah. Ditto.
8. Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot. Previously read, a fun female comfort read. Good for the bathtub. (Or should that be Queen of Bubbles?)
9. When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins. Never read, but I'm positive I'm going to love it. I'm a fan of Gail Collins in general, and of her book America's Women in particular, which is about the evolution of American women and women's roles from Pilgrim times to the present. This book seems to zoom in on the last 50 years of that progression. I can't wait to read it.

The cost of this stack of gems? $11.50. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was the most expensive at $2. For a hardcover. Take that, Barnes and Noble! (Just kidding, Barnes and Noble. I heart you, your easy browsing, and your convenient Starbucks drinks.)

The other thing I'm excited about right now is my own writing progress. I'm still in the midst of a great creative writing class at Vassar College, and will be sorry to see it end in a couple of weeks. I've written two new pieces since the start of that class. One is a Christmas tale, "Sugar and Spice," which I plan to edit and post on this blog within the next few weeks- my first self-publishing of my own original writing. The other is a short memoir that I wrote for a contest sponsored by The Writer magazine and Gotham Writer's Workshop, where I've also taken classes. I'm particularly proud of this piece because I've never attempted memoir before, and I think it came off well, with just the right combination of poignancy, humor, and heart-warmth. I don't expect to win the contest, but I'm proud of myself for even entering.

I also recently entered a short story I wrote last year, "Amish Girl," to the Glimmer Train new fiction contest. Glimmer Train is a periodical that encourages new authors, so I'm casting my story in with writers who are just starting out, like me. Again, I don't expect to win anything, but just entering is a step forward for me.

So those are the things that are keeping me smiling these days: an import of books, and an export of stories.

(And unlike George Costanza, I'm not lying to impress you!)

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